Winter vegetable stew with vegan dumplings

I love it when the first signs of autumn appear. It means I can stop eating light little salads and embrace hearty one pot stews and bakes. I started cooking this last winter and almost cried when the stupid sun arrived and it felt wrong to eat dumplings when those around me were pining for lighter fare.

For years I got vegetable stews all wrong. I’d be pouring in tins of tomatoes and whole heads of broccoli and then wondering why I ended up with an acidic mush. Eventually I realised that 1) Chopped tomatoes have no place in a stew and 2) Broccoli has no place with tomatoes. Instead I used a stock made from soaked dried mushrooms and a little tomato puree and replaced the broccoli with sweet root vegetables and pulses.

This recipe is very versatile. You want onions/leek/celery/mushrooms in some combination for the base. Beetroot/sweet potato/white potato/carrot for the bulk. Buckwheat/red lentils/green lentils/beans for the protein. I like to serve it with dumplings (leave off if you want this to be really healthy but a little needless fat can really life a winter evening), brown rice and mixed green vegetables.

Serves 4

  • 1 large onion
  • 6 mushrooms
  • 2 medium beetroot
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp smoked garlic paste (or two cloves of smoked garlic)
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup green lentils
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat
  • 1 can of butter beans
  • 1 large mug of boiling water with a handful of dried mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree

For the dumplings

  • 50g vegetable shortening/suet
  • 100g flour
  • 5 tbsp water
  • pinch of salt
  • tbsp mixed herbs

As ever – this is easy 🙂 Fry off the onion in a little oil until soft and then add your mushrooms and cook down. Add the root vegetables and spices. Mix around to coat. Add the pulses and then the stock and puree. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile make the dumplings by mixing the ingredients together, turning out and briefly kneading together. Break into the right number of pieces to ensure that everyone will get an equal number (folk will get narky if they are short-changed a dumpling). Place them in the pot and cover again and let simmer for another 20 minutes. After this time it should all be done but you might like to finish it under the grill to give the dumplings a nice finish.

What are you looking forward to cooking this winter?

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